Russian search giant Yandex has confirmed the completion of the sale of two of its flagship media properties, News and Zen, to local social media giant, VK, following regulatory approvals.
As we reported back in March, Yandex began looking for ways to offload its news aggregator and blogging recommender platform in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine as the Kremlin has cranked up control of the media and freedom of expression -- seeking to shape the narrative around what it only ever refers to as a "special military operation". The Russian state has also sought to clamp down on anti-war sentiment, raising risks for media owners. And we understand Yandex insiders had come to refer to News and Zen as "toxic assets".
In a statement today, the Dutch registered company announced its Russian operating subsidiary had completed the sale of the news aggregation platform and Zen "infotainment" service to VK -- confirming too the acquisition of 100% of the food delivery service, Delivery Club, which had been owned by VK.
The transaction received approval from the Federal Antimonopoly Service, Yandex added.
Following closure, Delivery Club becomes part of Yandex’s 'E-commerce, Mobility and Delivery' segment. And Yandex's statement notes that, as of today, the brand be consolidated in the group’s financial results -- with these changes due to be reflected in its third quarter financial results.
As we reported last month, the sale includes the Yandex.ru homepage which will pass to VK -- with visitors to that site being redirected to a renamed version of the page, dzen.ru, which is controlled and developed by VK.
The redirect is expected to begin happening later today.
We understand that the deal to sell News and Zen to VK was a pure asset swap -- with no financial component to the transaction.